July 1, 2005

European Parliament tables new software patent amendments for plenary

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Brussels, 1 July 2005. Members from all political sides are showing their support for 21 new amendments to the European software patent directive. The European Parliament is clearly readying itself to gather the required 367 votes to amend the Council’s proposal in the second reading, scheduled to take place on July 6th.

Mr Rocard, the rapporteur and former prime minister of France, has tabled the amendments in the name of the PSE group. The amendments have also been tabled by the IND/DEM (with one small change), the Greens/EFA and the GUE/NGL groups. They are also tabled by prominent representatives of the ALDE and EPP-ED groups.

Members of the European People’s Party (EPP-ED) Zuzana Roithova (Czech Republic) and former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek have tabled the 21 amendments providing a platform for an alternative position within their party. The situation is similar to what happened during the EP’s first reading, when the Finnish Piia-Noora Kauppi MEP successfully challenged the official EPP party line.

The official EPP party line contains far-reaching proposals to impose heavy burdons on SMEs under the label “reasonable and non-discriminatory” (RAND) licenses, as well as continued legal uncertainty as to whether European courts will be able to reject already granted US-style European software patents.

The same set of 21 amendments has also been tabled by MEP Andrew Duff “and others”. This means that at least 37 members of the ALDE group are now officially showing their support for the clear “no software patents” recommendation of the European Liberal Youth association.

Any amendment to be adopted in the second reading will require strong support. The reason is that for an amendment to pass, it requires support from a majority of the “component members” of the parliament, which is 367 MEPs. In practice, this means that every “abstain” vote will be a vote in favour of the Council text. Therefore, all MEPs will actively support one position or the other with each and every vote they cast (or do not cast).

On a related note, the Economic-Majority.com initiative against software patents almost doubled its support since the official launch on Monday last week. The platform now represents over 1,650 companies employing almost 30,000 people and with a turnover of about 3.2 billion euro, with new companies joining daily. The website also already features 66 individual testimonies in which business owners explain how software patents would affect their enterprise.

Background information

Contact information

Erik Josefsson
FFII Brussels Representative
erjos at ffii.org
+32-484-082063

Rufus Pollock
FFII UK
rufus.pollock at ffii.org.uk
+44-1223-690423

Gérald Sédrati-Dinet
Vice President FFII
gibus at ffii.fr
+33-6-60-56-36-45

Hartmut Pilch and Holger Blasum
FFII Munich Office
info at ffii org
+49-89-18979927

About FFII

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a non-profit association registered in several European countries, which is dedicated to the spread of data processing literacy. The FFII supports the development of public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 500 members, 1,400 companies and 80,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing. The FFII maintains offices in Munich and Brussels and national supporter groups in most European countries.